Another rebel leader was Jeroboam son of Nebat, one of Solomon’s own officials. He came from the town of Zeredah in Ephraim, and his mother was Zeruah, a widow. This is the story behind his rebellion. Solomon was rebuilding the supporting terraces and repairing the walls of the city of his father, David. Jeroboam was a very capable young man, and when Solomon saw how industrious he was, he put him in charge of the labor force from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph. One day as Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh met him along the way. Ahijah was wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone in a field, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten of these pieces, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and I will give ten of the tribes to you! But I will leave him one tribe for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. For Solomon has abandoned me and worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians; Chemosh, the god of Moab; and Molech, the god of the Ammonites. He has not followed my ways and done what is pleasing in my sight. He has not obeyed my decrees and regulations as David his father did. “‘But I will not take the entire kingdom from Solomon at this time. For the sake of my servant David, the one whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees, I will keep Solomon as leader for the rest of his life. But I will take the kingdom away from his son and give ten of the tribes to you. His son will have one tribe so that the descendants of David my servant will continue to reign, shining like a lamp in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen to be the place for my name. And I will place you on the throne of Israel, and you will rule over all that your heart desires. If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you. Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David—though not forever.’” Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but he fled to King Shishak of Egypt and stayed there until Solomon died.
1 Kings 11:26-40
Dear God, well, it only took one generation to start to start the demise of what all of Solomon’s predecessors had built over the previous 1,000 years. He got handed the keys to a great car and he eventually milked the car for all it was worth and it was worth less than when he got it. Sure, there might have been more gold and glory lying around, but the cancer was there and it was ready to tear things apart. What could he have done differently?
Besides staying faithful to you, which is the obvious answer, I can’t help but think about what happens with Solomon’s son/successor, Rehoboam. After Solomon dies and Rehoboam is made king, the leaders of Israel comes to him and said, “Your father was a hard master. Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.” (1 Kings 12:4) Was it out of his wisdom that Solomon had become a harsh master? Was it the arrogance and then the fear of losing what he had that drove him to it?
I listened to a podcast today about Donald Sterling, former owner of the L.A. Clippers. It’s about the racism scandal that finally got him kicked out of the NBA. At the end of the second episode in the series, one man who had worked for the Clippers at one point said:
“He had become so bloated–that’s the word–so rich…being able to do what he wanted to do and have everything come back to him that he had a disconnect with what he could do, what he could get away with, what’s right and what was wrong, and what sounded wrong. He had lost his connection because people had patronized him for so long. So he had lost his ability to connect with the real consequences in life.”
Sounds like Solomon to me.
Father, this is a reminder to make sure I have people around me who are able and willing to come back at me and tell me when I am wrong. Help me to be vulnerable to them. Help me to embrace transparency. Help me to remain sensitive to the needs and perspectives of those around me so that anything I do will be driven by mercy and love rather than self-preservation and ego.
In Jesus’s name I pray,